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The 3 Pillars of Successful Practice Marketing

 

3 Pillars

As more functional medicine practitioners exit the insurance payer system in an effort to find greater satisfaction in their work, they find themselves in the unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) position of having to market their practice in order to attract new patients.

Here are three pillars of successful practice marketing to ensure your practice gains traction and becomes profitable quickly:

1. Build a Strong Marketing Foundation

A strong marketing foundation means two things: 1) differentiating yourself in the marketplace by selecting a well-defined niche, and 2) developing a deep understanding of your ideal client.

Practitioners often believe they will attract more patients by being everything to everyone. Yet this “generalist” approach often misses the mark because most people willing to pay cash for services have a specific health condition that is not being adequately addressed by the conventional system and are looking for a specialist.

Sometimes practitioners worry that by having a niche they’ll limit themselves or become bored. Never fear: You don’t have to choose an overly narrow niche, and you don’t have to turn away people who come to you for other issues.

Niching is a marketing strategy by which you seek to attract a certain kind of client; it’s not a hard and fast rule that says you can’t help others, if you wish to.

The second step in building a strong marketing foundation is to develop a deep understanding of your ideal client. How old are they? What gender? What do they struggle with? What are their hopes and dreams? Most importantly, what results do they want?
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Understanding Your Ideal Client

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The foundation of great marketing is having a clear understanding of your ideal client, or your target audience. Who are you trying to reach?

Too often when I ask a new client this question, the answer is vague. They’re not sure. Sometimes the answer is “Everyone?”

This is a problem because if you don’t have a specific picture of who you’re trying to attract, your message will fail to engage. Your marketing will be weak and ineffective.

So it’s imperative that you spend time identifying precisely who your ideal client is, as this will inform all of your marketing efforts — your website, talks, 1-on-1 conversations, emails, articles, videos, social media and more.

By definition, an ideal client is someone who:

1. Knows they have a problem
2. Is seeking a solution NOW (there is urgency)
3. Has money to pay for a solution (this should be obvious)
4. Has a positive, can-do attitude (someone you would enjoy working with)

This means an ideal client is not someone who can’t admit they have a problem (“I’m not that overweight”) or isn’t motivated to take action yet (“I can live with this”).

No, we’re seeking the person who is ready and motivated for change, and willing to prioritize an investment in their health. We’re looking for someone who is seeking our help and doesn’t need to be convinced.

In order to attract this person, we need to speak in compelling language they can relate to. We need to make them feel understood. To do this, we “step into their shoes” by answering the following questions:
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How Long Should Your Free Consults Be?

 

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Many practitioners give free consults as a tool to introduce potential clients and patients to their services and enroll them into packages or programs.

It can be an effective sales tool, if you know how to do them right.

The question becomes, how long should your free consults be?

It depends.

A number of factors come into play here, including your pricing, your credentials, and whether you use a 1-step or 2-step sales process. Let me explain.

Your Pricing

This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally, the less expensive your services, the less time you should spend on the free consult. Here’s a rule of thumb:

  • If your programs are less than $1,000, you likely only need to spend 15-20 minutes.
  • If your programs are $1,000 to $3,000, plan on spending at least 30 minutes and possibly up to an hour.
  • If your programs are more then $4,000, figure 45 minutes to an hour.

 
Your Credentials

Your credentials are another factor that affects the length of your consults. If you’re an MD, DO or ND, people don’t expect to get much (or any) of your time for free and you can often spend less time than a DC or LAc.

If you’re a nutritionist or health coach, you’ll often need to spend more time, as your services are perceived as less valuable (not fair, but we’re talking perception here), and you’ll need more time to build rapport and demonstrate the value of your services.

1-Step versus 2-Step Sales Process

How long you spend also depends on your sales process. In general, you’ll need to spend more time on the free consult if you’re using a 1-step sales process. A 1-step process looks like this:

Free Consult —> High Value Package/Program

In this scenario you’re selling the prospect directly into a high value package or program from the free consult. There’s no intermediary step.

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Should You Offer Free Consults?

 

Free Consult

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a subject of debate in the practitioner community: Should you offer free consults?

Some people will tell you never to do them (“Don’t give away your time for free!”) and others swear by them as an integral part of their enrollment process.

Here’s my take. I’ve talked with hundreds of holistic, functional and integrative practitioners in the past year and the consensus seems to be that free consults can and do work well, with the caveat that they must be done the right way. This means following a few simple rules:

1. Don’t confuse a free consult with a free session

This is a big mistake that a lot of practitioners make. They treat a consult as a coaching or treatment session and try to solve their client’s health challenges right then and there.

Yet this is a surefire way to virtually ensure that a prospect walks away without signing up for your services. You see, when you conduct a consult this way, here’s what’s going on in your mind:

“I’m going to wow this person with my deep knowledge and understanding of [health, nutrition, functional medicine, etc]. If I demonstrate how much I know, they’ll be so impressed that they’ll jump at the opportunity to work with me. It’ll be a no-brainer!”

And here’s what happening in your prospect’s mind while you’re sharing all this wisdom:

“Oh, wow, this is a great information. Hey, thanks for answering my questions! It’s so generous of you. I think I’ve got what I need. Thanks again. I’ll be in touch when I’m ready to get started. See ya!”

Then the person hangs up the phone or walks out and you never hear from them again. Problem is, they think they’ve got all the information they need to fix their problems and they’re excited to have gotten it for free!

But the reality is different. YOU know — with your deep understanding of the body’s systems and your knowledge of the extensive investigative work it takes to get to the root of complex issues — that there’s little chance a brief interchange is going to actually transform their health and change their life.

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Why Your Critics Are Not the Ones Who Count

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Sharing your knowledge and opinion as an expert in the public arena isn’t for the faint of heart.

As soon as you put yourself out there, critics are ready to tear you down.

For sensitive introverts like myself, this is a constant challenge. As much as I try to have a thick skin, it’s hard not to be affected by negative comments.

So how do I deal with it and not let it slow me down?

Well, I can’t say I have it all figured out (not even close), but I did get valuable perspective from Brené Brown’s talk “Why Your Critics Are Not the Ones Who Count.”

If you haven’t heard of Brené, she’s a researcher who has dedicated her career to studying vulnerability, shame and connection. I highly recommend all of her talks, which you can find on YouTube, but this one in particular hit home for me this week.

Here it is — this just might be the best 22 minutes you’ll spend all day:

Ah… so good.

Here are a few things that stood out for me:

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The One Word You Need to Remove From Your Vocabulary Right Now

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Over the past year, I’ve had one-on-one conversations with almost 200 holistic, functional and integrative practitioners about their business challenges.

Many are feeling frustrated or stuck and that’s why they reach out to me.

One of these practitioners, a nutritionist, said something that gave me pause. Here’s what she said:

“I see many people that I can help, but I don’t know how to reach them, how to get them to listen to me and how to convince them to work with me.”

One particular word in that sentence stood out to me — a word that immediately gave me a clue as to why she was having trouble getting clients.

Can you guess which word it was?

I’ll give you a second. Take a look and see if you can figure it out.

(Don’t peek below!)

The word was…

Convince.

Here’s the thing:

“Convince” should never come out of your mouth when talking about getting new clients or patients. It shouldn’t even enter your mind.

To explain why, let’s call to mind a common stereotype of an uncomfortable sales experience: a used car lot.

(Aside: In another post, I called upon the negative stereotype of a used car salesman to explain what good selling is not. In response, I received an email from one subscriber who had actually been a used car saleswoman and was indignant that I had denigrated her previous profession. That made me feel like a jerk. 🙁 With that in mind, I want to make clear here that I am intentionally drawing on a cartoon stereotype that obviously does NOT apply to the vast majority of used car salesmen or saleswomen.)
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The Cure for Hem and Haw Syndrome

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In my coaching practice, I’ve observed a lot of folks suffering from a mysterious illness I call “Hem and Haw Syndrome.”

Those afflicted may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:

— Spending tremendous amounts of mental energy agonizing over decisions like their business name, logo and website domain

— Telling themselves “I’ve got to get moving!” and then getting mired in minutia

— Waffling and taking weeks or months to make a decision that should take days

Does any of this sound familiar in your own life or business?

If so, you may have Hem and Haw Syndrome, an inability to make fast and efficient decisions.

If left untreated, the syndrome can progress to symptoms of utter frustration and despair. Your ability to build a successful business may be severely impaired. You may find yourself on a fast train to nowhere.

Let’s nip this one in the bud, shall we?

Here are 5 simple steps to cure Hem and Haw Syndrome:

1. Set a deadline

The first step is to set yourself a reasonable deadline for making a decision.

What’s reasonable? Well, the deadline should be near enough to make you slightly uncomfortable, but not so near that you don’t have time to properly implement steps #2 and #3.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to name a new product. Every day that this product remains unnamed, your forward progress is stalled. Tasks remain stuck at the starting gate — your product logo, the sales page, etc. These to-do’s can’t get done until the name is settled.

How long do you need to decide on a new product name?
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Do You Really Need an Ezine?

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You’ve probably been told that as a small business owner, you need to start publishing an ezine (email newsletter) every week or two. But do you really?

Before I answer that, let’s define what an ezine is.

Typically, it’s an email that is formatted with a pretty header—usually with your business logo and picture—and includes a number of different sections. These are often a personal introduction, a feature article, links to recommended resources, and maybe a special offer or promotion.

Are ezines effective?

Well, let’s look at the facts. Here are two clear benefits of an ezine:

1. Your prospects and clients are reminded of your existence. They stay connected and aware of what you’re doing.

2. They may contact you for an appointment or purchase a product because they are reminded of your existence.

Those are good benefits—no argument there. But the question we really want to know is, Can we get these same benefits without all the hassle of creating an ezine?
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6 Reasons Why You Don’t Have Enough Clients

6 Reasons Why You Don't Have Enough Clients

You know what gets my goat?

I meet too many wellness professionals who don’t have enough clients and are struggling to survive.

They’re good people and they have so many gifts to offer… but they’re frustrated and scared. Clients are trickling in rather than pouring in.

They don’t know how long they can keep at this before raising the white flag and returning to a soul-sucking job that pays the bills.

When I start coaching them, I discover a common set of problems that are holding them back. Here are six of them – check to see if you’re making any of these mistakes:

1. Your message isn’t specific.

Is your message broad and general, rather than narrow and specific?

If so, you’re captivating no one.

To see why, you have to understand that people are always: 1) seeking a solution to a problem, or 2) trying to fulfill a dream, desire or fantasy.

This means that if you’re not speaking specifically to one of these circumstances, your message lacks power. It dissolves into the background of competing noise.

Too many professionals try to be all things to all people. They’re afraid that if they narrow the field, they won’t get enough clients.

Paradoxically, the opposite is true. When you get more specific about who you are talking to and how you help, the more powerful your marketing becomes and the more clients you get.

For more about why this is true, including examples, read this article.

2. You’re not offering people what they want.

Are you offering your prospects what you think they want, or what they really want?

There’s a difference. Let me explain.
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The Truth About Unsubscribes

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After months of procrastination, you’ve finally drafted your first newsletter.

You’ve tested and tweaked. All looks good. With a pounding heart, you hit “Send.”

Then… the unsubscribes come trickling in. First one, then two, then three.

By the end of the day, six people have opted-out of your list — and your list wasn’t that big to begin with.

You’re devastated. You wonder, did I do something wrong? Did my content suck? Am I a jerk?

Unfortunately, this is where many new marketers get scared. They back off. Sometimes they even give up — before they’ve really gotten started.

Now you’re probably expecting me to tell you that the answer is to suck it up and grow a thicker skin. But I’m not going to do that.

You see, narcissists and sociopaths aside, I believe that any person who cares about what others think can’t help but take opt-outs personally, because it feels personal.

You’re putting yourself out there, and you’re vulnerable. You want people to like you, and every unsubscribe feels like a slap in the face. A small humiliation. An attack on your self-worth.

So what’s an email marketer to do?
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